'A memento of the blessed, fervently beloved and immortal master' is how Anton Bruckner characterized the stunning, elegiac 'Adagio' from his Seventh Symphony. While working on this symphonic mastodon, in February 1883, the Austrian composer learned that his great idol Richard Wagner had died. Bruckner promptly decided to regard his Adagio as a grand 'in memoriam', with the noble sounds of Wagner tubas.

With his Seventh Symphony, the 60-year-old Bruckner finally had his breakthrough as a great and idiosyncratic symphonist, after several years of merciless criticism and ridicule. At the same time, the work, which partly owes its immortality to the film Senso by Luchino Visconti, is regarded as the ideal introduction to Bruckner's extensive symphonic oeuvre. The grand architecture, the lofty, hymn-like expression and the sense of spatial expansion, so characteristic of the composer, flow together in a very natural and inspired way. 'Music from above the tree line' is how maestro Bernard Haitink once characterised this unique universe of sound. Nevertheless, the imposing sonic cathedral of Bruckner's Seventh is an incomparable immersive experience.

Bruckner 7

Image: Tim Coppens

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